July 29, 2008


MSF official statement

Once again in this type of situation, there is a lot of confusion introduced, whether deliberately or through a lack of correct information, between the role of the states that have ratified the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations, and the activities of independent humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Let us clearly state that while respecting legal authorities and international treaties, and as such the competency and mandate of the ICC, MSF remains a field-based organization of medical professionals delivering health care and life saving relief to victims of conflicts, epidemics or disasters, and is independent from all structures or powers, be they political, religious, economic or judicial.

Since the creation of the ICC, all MSF sections have adopted a binding internal policy refraining from any cooperation with the ICC. This policy is based on the recognition that humanitarian activities must remain independent from risk of political and judicial pressure in order to be able to give medical and relief assistance to populations in situations of trouble and violence. This policy has been presented and explained to the ICC so as to make sure that MSF will not be compelled or summoned to give information and witnessing to such judicial bodies.

To access victims in a country in crisis, we talk to all parties involved in the conflict to make sure they will respect our work and the security of our teams. We do not hesitate to go public about the crisis or the violence inflicted on the people we treat, particularly when their situation is unknown or not addressed, and always in full transparency with all stakeholders. This is what we have done consistently since the beginning of the Darfur crisis.

We did not cooperate or send any information to the ICC and we do not as a rule comment on judicial decisions. We remain independent and impartial, both necessary conditions for the continuation of our medical work in the field. We again call on all parties to the conflict to respect and facilitate our assistance, which is essential for hundreds of thousands of people's survival in Darfur today.

—Christophe Fournier, President of MSF International Council